BOISE, Idaho — Members of the Boise School District Parents' Association are rallying near the school district's office on Friday night to show trustees they're ready to move from the pandemic to an endemic.
Two years of COVID-19 policies have been hard on teachers, students and parents. For some families, like Christine Forbes', pandemic-related protocols in the Boise School District have been complicated.
Of Forbes' six children, she said four have disabilities that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized could make wearing a mask risky or concerning. Their choices, she said, were either online school or following the mask protocols.
Forbes also struggles to wear a mask and subsequently doesn't attend board meetings in person or go inside her child's school.
"I've never met his teachers, which coming from a home-school background, I like being involved," she said. "I like getting to have a voice and feeling a part of the schooling of my kids."
Forbes said she worries about how the COVID-19 protocols have impacted economically disadvantaged families, special education, and foster care students.
On Monday, the BSD trustees plan to discuss updating the district's COVID-19 health and safety plan. According to the online agenda, part of the plan is to move from "pandemic" to "endemic" practices. Which, BSDPA member Sandy Cardon said, essentially means COVID-19 "is going to be a part of our lives forever" and should be treated like other diseases like the flu or cold.
The new plan, according to the online version, includes:
- Making masks optional
- Returning to pre-pandemic school activities
- Implement and follow the BSD illness procedure guidelines
Cardon believes returning to pre-pandemic school activities is crucial, particularly for elementary students. She added that sporting events and high school activities have "quite a bit of favoritism" and are not as restricted as elementary programs.
"It's really, really disheartening for me," she said. "We've tried to make life as normal as possible outside of school for our kids. So, I feel like we've been able to buffer it out that way, on a personal level."
Both mothers say they favor moving to an endemic plan, which is why they are planning a rally in support of the proposal Friday evening. Cardon says members of BSDPA will stand on Victory Road in front of the district's service center from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Cardon said the rally is peaceful, and there will be no confrontation of district staff.
"I'm bringing my kids," Forbes said. "If I thought that there was going to be a problem, they wouldn't be there."
The group feels so passionate about moving to an endemic plan because they want their children to learn in person, Cardon said.
"We absolutely love our neighborhood school," she said. "I love the principal. I love the staff and the teachers. We love that our kids get to go to school with our neighbors. And for us, it's very much a very large part of our lives.
"We just want to support our school and get it back to what it used to be as quickly as possible," Cardon said. "Those experiences and opportunities that they're missing out on are a big deal."
Boise School District did not respond to an Idaho News 6 request for comment.